Women's robed bodies swirl up like graceful red flames in the newest stained-glass window, dedicated yesterday afternoon, at Washington Cathedral.
The YWCA Window of Thanksgiving, next to the Lincoln bay in the north nave aisle, was designed by Brenda Belfield and executed by Dieter Goldkuhle, both from Reston. More than most of the other windows, flowing curves and dominant reds free it from the severe narrow rectangles of the panels themselves, and in the dying sun just after 4p.m. it glowed with great warmth.
Martha and Mary are depicted in the central lancet, Martha preparing food and Mary, above her, reaching for a golden burst of light that symbolizes the Messiah. To the left is Pharaoh's daughter finding Moses in the bulrushes. Naomi and Ruth figure in the lancet to the right. Below, predellas, or medallions, show the work of the YWCA.
"I'm a Martha," said the speaker, Dr. Linda Jane Clark, an assistant professor at Union Theological Seminary. "I've spent many hours resenting the Marys of this world."
Martha, it will be recalled, resented having to do the busywork around the house when Jesus and his followers stayed there, and she asked Jesus to get her sister Mary to help, for Mary had stopped working to listen to the Master.
"Martha, Martha," Jesus said . . .
"Luke could have stopped right there," Dr. Clark added. "Jesus chides Martha for her loss of perspective . . . he gets through to her with love, the force that heals the blindness of the earth. We should see that love, power and justice are not separated. We see ourselves as powerless and alone, and think the struggle for justice goes on out there in the world, among the people with the real power."
But we must learn, she said, to confront oppression where we are, in our living rooms, and in our lives: work that - like the stained-glass window - is built up from lots of little segments.
After hymns by the choir and interpretive dance by the Gallaudet Dancer, YWCA president Elizabeth S. Genne presented the window and Dean Francis B. Sayre Jr. dedicated it.
The final prayer of commitment by the YWCA contained these words:
"Keep us steadfast in our determination to bring about those changes in our hearts and in our society which will guarantee that no one will suffer indignity because of skin color or economic deprivation. Remind us of our potential to be your barrier-breaking love as we live and move in today's world . . ."